18 years is a long time.
I am 18 years old and I feel like I’ve been around for a long time. It has been 18 years since the Idaho football team has gone 8-4.
In 1998, the Vandals went 9-3 before dropping to several one-win seasons in the 18-year span. The team briefly resurfaced for the 2009 season when it went 8-5 and won the Humanitarian Bowl. The Vandals once again dipped into losing seasons.
Now, the team is off to its third bowl game in program history.
On paper, the game looks like a win for Colorado State. But paper doesn’t mean everything.
Idaho heads into the game with several team strengths that could allow the Vandals to hold onto their perfect bowl record.
Throughout the 2016 season, Idaho’s offense carried the team. The Vandals finished third in the Sun Belt conference in scoring offense. Leading the offense is junior quarterback Matt Linehan, with 15 touchdowns on the season.
This may be enough to take the win over Colorado State.
The mediocre defense put up by the Rams is ranked sixth in the Mountain West and fifth in ranked pass defense.
The Ram defense’s performance in the red zone is another potentially sweet spot for the Vandals. Colorado State comes in near last in allowed third down conversions. Idaho falls third in completed third downs. If the Vandals take advantage of the Rams third down weakness, it could turn it into a huge advantage.
The red zone is another strong point for the Idaho offense.
Idaho ranks fifth in red zone offense, which may not look great, unless compared to Colorado State’s last ranked red zone defense.
This weakness provides an open opportunity for the top-scoring Idaho offense to put points on the board and seal a win.
College football is amazing at every level and every game. Watching a game can result in resounding wins, jaw-dropping losses and everything in between.
ESPN shows Idaho at a 14-point deficit with a mere 31.5 percent chance of a win.
This would be too bad for the Vandals if ESPN and their statistics were the all-knowing psychics of the football world.
Luckily – they’re not.
Every dog has their day, and maybe the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl is the underdogs day.
Meredith Spelbring can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org